Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gingerbread Pear Pancakes

Here's another pear recipe for all the pear lovers out there.  I'm so glad to know there are others of us and that I'm not alone in my pear devotion.  Although, I must say, the pear is not the star of the show here.  It takes on a supporting role in these pancakes, adding moisture and sweetness to a highly spiced and good-for-you Saturday morning staple.  But I'm not trying to talk you out of trying these pancakes, they really are fantastic and great for both a lazy weekend morning or for a special breakfast with friends and family (think Thanksgiving or Christmas morning).

I love the combination of pear and gingerbread.  Look closely at a lot of the food magazines during the fall and winter months and you'll see variations of the duo, mostly in the form of cakes.  There's a reason for that- the pear can stand up to a lot of spices and it's flavor blends in to the gingerbread seamlessly.  Those warm vanilla notes that the pear hits are a perfect match for the ginger, cinnamon and cloves.

So when I fell into a pancake rut recently, I decided to try something different.  I've been using applesauce in a lot of baked goods lately to replace all or some of the sugar and it seemed to me that pears would work just as well.  I pulled out a recipe that I tried at Christmas last year for gingerbread pancakes (a variation of the perfect everyday pancake that is my standard) and tried it again.  This time I used a combination of mashed pears and molasses as sweeteners and swapped out some of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat.  The end result was a light and fluffy pancake which was moist, warmly spicy, and just a tiny bit sweet.  I fell in love and will definitely be finding more excuses to make these pancakes.  A drizzle of warm maple syrup and couple slices of salty bacon (I'm a sucker for the sweet and salty combo) and you've got a great breakfast for your family and company alike.

Gingerbread Pear Pancakes
Makes approximately 2 dozen 4-inch pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbs molasses
4 tbs butter, melted and cooled
1 medium very ripe pear

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.  In a second bowl, beat together the eggs, molasses, buttermilk and melted butter.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to fully incorporate. 

Peel and finely chop the pear.  You can add the pear right to the batter as it is now or you can lightly mash it with a fork before adding it to the batter (which is what I did).  The only real difference it will make is to the texture of the pancake and it's completely a matter of taste.  In either case, stir the pear into the batter.

Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat.  Melt a tablespoon of butter in the skillet and pour the batter into pancakes that are about 4 inches in diameter.  Cook in batches of 3 or four, flipping when the bottoms are lightly browned and bubbles appear at the edges of the pancakes.  Cook for about 1 minute on the other side.  Transfer the cooked pancakes to a plate.  You can keep them warm in a low oven if serving all at once or hand a plate to each of your kids and let them fight it out over who gets the first ones.

Serve with warm maple syrup and a smile.

This is what happens when your two year old wants to help flip the pancakes but doesn't like having his picture taken!

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